PH receives first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 28) — The government received on Sunday the first shipment of vaccines against COVID-19.

The vaccines, from Chinese drugmaker Sinovac Biotech, arrived at the Villamor Air Base around 4:10 p.m. and will later be delivered to COVID-19 referral hospitals in Metro Manila for the vaccine rollout on Monday.

In a speech delivered during the turnover ceremony, President Rodrigo Duterte said the arrival of the vaccines gives hope that the pandemic would soon be over in the country.

"I said it before and I will say it again, COVID-19 vaccines would be treated as a global public good and made available to all, rich and poor alike. No nation, no people should be left to suffer the ravages of this pandemic for whatever reason," he said.

Duterte also noted that among all countries who received the Sinovac vaccines, only the Philippines had theirs delivered by a Chinese government plane.

"Yung iba, kinukuha doon sa China. Dito, hinatid sa atin," he said.

[Translation: Others had to go get them from China. Ours were delivered.]

In a separate speech, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said he hoped the vaccines would help the country kick off the mass inoculation campaign "to curb the pandemic and allow Filipinos to return to normal life at the earliest."

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro said they were ready to receive the vaccine as they arrive to be stored in a facility in the city prior to rollout on Monday.

"This is a DOH storage facility. It's all systems go here. In fact, upon delivery of the vaccines, it will already be inventoried, and after the inventory, the deployment will be done in order to start the rollout effectively tomorrow morning," he said.

On Monday, 525,600 AstraZeneca vaccines were expected to arrive. However, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the arrival would be delayed.

"Meron lang kasi hindi matutuloy dahil nga ang sabi ng WHO nagkakaproblema sila sa supply. So, maantala daw ng isang linggo," he said in an interview after the turnover ceremony at Villamor Airbase.

[Translation: There is news...that it will not push through because the WHO (World Health Organization) said they were having trouble with supply. So, it will be delayed by a week.]

To date, there are 576,352 COVID-19 cases in the country, according to the Department of Health.